Friday, September 20, 2013

More Thoughts on Being a Hybrid Writer and My Self-Publishing Discoveries

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

On Monday’s post, I received a comment from Colleen…she was interested in hearing more about balancing or approaching life as a hybrid writer—someone who is both traditionally published and self-published.
She mentioned (and she’s right) that many self-pubbed/indie authors aren’t at all interested in being traditionally published.  She was curious about how I handle both worlds.
And…it’s interesting sometimes.  But for me, a job is a job. I have traditionally published series with readers who want more books, so I’m providing them more books.  I recently signed a contract with Penguin for more mysteries in the Southern Quilting series.
How I manage the two parts of my writing life:
Since I was traditionally published before I was self-pubbed, I don’t have expectations about my having much input into the production side for traditional publishing.  I work well with my editors, I hit my deadlines, I promote in a quiet way.  I’ve got readers who enjoy these series and I’m not planning on walking away from the series or those readers while I’m still being asked to write books for them.
That being said—my bread and butter is the self-pub—the Myrtle Clover series. While I put self-pubbed projects on hold to finish traditionally published ones (they’re higher priority because I’m paid in advance and because I have a deadline in my contract), I always return to the self-pubbed projects as soon as I can. 
I’m not one of those who enjoys the control I get with self-pub.  I enjoy the royalties I get there, but the production process always carries a little residual stress for me.  But once it’s done, I do feel a sense of pride with the project—maybe more than I get from my traditionally published ones…simply because I was responsible for the entire package.
What I’ve noticed in the past couple of years:
Readers frequently don’t seem to notice or care which books are self-pubbed and which are my traditionally pubbed—at least, from what I can tell from Facebook messages and emails. But they will fuss that my traditional pubs aren’t on audio and will ask me how one series is and the others aren’t.  I’ve never, oddly, had a reader ask me why they couldn’t find a Myrtle Clover book when they went to Barnes & Noble.
I’ve noticed that my print sales are definitely slipping in comparison to my digital sales. But there are still readers who contact me about the lack of availability of particular print titles (and they don’t want to read a digital book). 
And, if something isn’t available on Nook, I hear about it.  Unfortunately, one of my traditionally published titles isn’t on Nook—I had no idea until I heard from a reader a couple of weeks ago.  I contacted Midnight Ink about it and haven’t heard back yet. I sent the reader an old print copy of the book that I had at home—she’d read all my other books but that one.  I don’t think of Nook as sending too many sales my way, but there are obviously readers who have invested in that platform and aren’t going to read on other types of devices.
International sales take a while to start up, but once they do, they add up quickly.  My international sales were dead until the last 8 or 9 months, and now books are selling briskly there.  I suppose it works the same way as it does here with online retailers—once a few sales are generated, your title gets more visibility.
I somehow feel compelled to tell family and friends who ask about my books that I’m doing both traditional and self-pub.  I have no idea why I feel this is important to disclose.  My disclosure is usually met with complete confusion, which leads me to think that many non-writers aren’t really following the self-pub revolution.  They always recognize that ebooks are less-expensive—I do hear that all the time.  But they seem surprised that I’m choosing this path.  Surprised…and usually concerned.  Have my series been discontinued?  I’ve found that a brief explanation doesn’t seem to exist.
The more avenues you can open up for already-published content, the better.  I didn’t learn this until this year.  So you’ve got some published ebooks.  If they’re in demand, go ahead and offer them in print and audio.  Make your content work harder for you.  I’ve been so focused on creating new content that I didn’t think about branching out. 
Are you a hybrid writer?  Do you have any insights about publishing or self-publishing to share here?
A note: Congratulations to my friend Alex J. Cavanaugh for his new release, CassaStorm!  Alex not only has a successful series, but he also has a terrific blog and a wonderful community for writers, the IWSG. You can find my interview with Alex in this month’s newsletter for the Writer’s Knowledge Base and here.